FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS FOR STUDENTS ON INTERNSHIPS

What is an internship?

An internship at St. Petersburg College is a supervised, practical learning experience in the workplace that offers the student an opportunity to apply, connect, and extend academic theory and competencies to build professional skills and networks.

Why do I need an internship?

As a recent or soon-to-be college graduate in today's changing economy, the experience of having an internship under your belt could be just what it takes to put you over the top against competitors in the job market. SPC works with some of the best companies, local and national employers, as well as small businesses to offer students the widest range of experience; and new companies are added every day to the growing list.

What qualifies as an internship?

SPC follows guidelines set by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) for internships. The following guidelines define a legitimate internship:

  1. Be an extension of the classroom and apply knowledge gained in the classroom.
  2. Be transferable to other employment.
  3. Have a defined beginning and end, job description and desired qualifications.
  4. Have learning objectives/goals aligned with a student's academic coursework.
  5. Provide professional supervision in the field of the experience.
  6. Offer routine feedback by the experienced supervisor.
  7. Employ the use of resources, equipment and facilities that support learning objectives/goals.

Overseeing Internships
SPC's college-wide internship office will monitor all internships to ensure that each posted position adheres to the definition and criteria of an internship.

Unpaid Internships
Unpaid internship are possible, but must adhere to guidelines established by the Department of Labor.

Are internships paid or unpaid?

Internships can be either paid or unpaid. If the internship is unpaid, it must meet the six criteria for unpaid internships as articulated in the Fair Labor Standards Act. If the internship is paid, the compensation is at the discretion of the employer.

How long is an internship?

The length of an internship varies depending on the semester the internship is served. Fall and spring semesters are usually 16 weeks, and summer is 10 weeks in duration.

What majors are available?

There are several programs available that could benefit from this business partnership.

What are the deadlines for applying for internships?

Deadlines for student applications are established no less than six weeks prior to the beginning of the new semester. Please see the academic calendar for deadlines.

How are students selected for an internship?

Students apply for an internship to complete their academic program. Selection occurs by matching employer requests to appropriate students.

How do employers request an intern?
Are there specific things an intern's supervisor needs to do?

The following will assist in maximizing the internship experience for the business and ensure an efficient and effective process for hiring and working with the SPC student.

  • The employer will adhere to the hiring practices of their business including completion of appropriate paperwork and training.
  • The employer will ensure that the intern is aware of all written and unwritten workplace protocol and procedures, rules, standards and practices.
  • The employer will keep in mind that interns are students accountable for work in other courses, and it is important to provide a reasonable and flexible work schedule.
  • The employer will identify a company mentor to supervise and develop the intern's work progress.
  • The employer will maintain contact with the coordinator to provide feedback on how the placement is progressing.
  • The employer will notify the coordinator as soon as possible in the event a problem develops with the intern's performance. Additionally, they need to notify the coordinator of any resignation or termination during the semester.
  • The employer will be responsible for completing the employer evaluation form.
Is an intern considered an employee?

Internships in the "for-profit" private sector will often be viewed as employment unless there are circumstances under which individuals who participate in "for-profit" private sector internships may do so without compensation. To decide whether an intern is an employee, employers should refer to the six criteria of an internship as established by the Department of Labor (DOL).

Do employers have to provide Workers' Compensation to interns?

Generally yes, especially if any form of manual labor is involved. This includes everything from delivering or carrying pamphlets to driving the boss to a meeting. Interns, both paid and unpaid, are usually required by law to be covered by worker's compensation insurance by the employer with very few exceptions.

Student interns - paid or unpaid - providing non-manual services to a religious, charitable or educational institution covered under Section 501 (c)(3) of the IRS tax code are exempt from mandatory coverage (but can also be covered voluntarily).

It is important to understand that many states have worker's compensation laws that automatically bar employees and interns from suing their employer for damages even if an employer broke a law, harmed someone on purpose, or was found negligent.

If workers' comp is offered as an option, carefully consider if it makes the best sense for you. If your injured at work, you will usually get some benefit payout from a predetermined worker's compensation benefits structure unique to your state for your injury, but no state offers benefits to match 100% of your income, and in many cases, will limit your medical expense coverage.

If you work in a dangerous environment, remember in many states, your forfeit your right to sue your employer when you have worker's compensation. Worker's compensation is a safety net to avoid litigation - it does not provide legal avenue to file a lawsuit for damages.

What types of skills is an intern expected to have?

Students perform internships to gain experience, practice skills learned in the classroom and network with professionals in their intended field. Mentorship is a key component to the experience. Internships are generally performed at the end of their academic program. Associate in Science degrees are composed of 18 general education credits which include Composition, Speech, Math and Ethics. The remaining 45 credits comprise the academic area in which they are completing their degree.